Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fulbright (Thessaloniki) Day 3!

I was really looking forward to our last “official” day in Greece. We were to go see the historical site of Vergina. There is a lot of controversy at this site. They found a tomb there that they said is Phillip II and his grandson Aleksandar (not the great, but his son). The controversy surround it involves Macedonia. The 16 pointed sun was found at this site (as well as others) but because Phillip 2 is buried here, Greece claims that no one else can use this sun. And promptly yelled at MK for doing so on their flag. To this day, people still use the old flag when trying to make a political statement. So I was curious to see what all the fuss was about.

The city of Aigai, the ancient first capital of the Kingdom of Macedonia, was discovered in the 19th century near Vergina, in northern Greece. The most important remains are the monumental palace, lavishly decorated with mosaics and painted stuccoes, and the burial ground with more than 300 tumuli, some of which date from the 11th century B.C. One of the royal tombs in the Great Tumulus is identified as that of Philip II, who conquered all the Greek cities, paving the way for his son Alexander and the expansion of the Hellenistic world. Or for the long description: UNESCO Site

We hopped on the bus (a bit late, of course) and took off to the monastery that the guide had recommended. Beautiful countryside. It also let me mark where the turn off to Skopje is so I could find it the next day when we were going home. Well, we saw some beautiful beautiful countryside, even though we were going the wrong way! We turned the wrong way and went out about 30 minutes the wrong way. We pulled into this monestary (turned out to be a nunnery), and these nuns looked at the tour bus like we were crazy! We were so at the wrong place. The little drive up to this place was amazingly scary- so twisty turny and step and no guard rails! But the driver was amazing and soon we were on the right way to the right monastery where we were supposed to have a guide. We did arrive there and it was breathtaking. See:

We heard about how this was where this “saint” had gone and had a vision or something like that. It was a bit difficult to hear/understand, because it was being translated and that wasn’t very good either.  After a tour with the priest and our guide, in the rain we hopped back on the bus to go to Vergina. At this point we were about 1-2 hours off of our schedule. (and already behind on lunch!) We made it there, but only the tombs were open due to reconstruction. I was interested to see how the tour guide explained the history since it is so controversial. She failed. She basically spouted the party line that Macedonia is only Greek and no one else can claim anything related to the kingdom of Ancient Macedonia. (which is a little harsh due to this map, just saying.)

I would tune in to her talking for a bit and then tune out. She even at one point said “Since 75% of the gravestones are in Greek, that means that everyone was ethnically Greek.” I’ll just let that sink in a bit. If most of the population is one ethnicity, that means, according to her, that no other ethnicity matters or deserves recognition. Like WOAH! That’s when she lost me the first time. You know it’s bad when the girl who is studying the classics tells you she is incorrect in her history. But regardless, it was interesting to see the sights and the possible bones of Phillip 2.

After this we went on a 45 minute drive to lunch. Lunch was at what is supposed to be a high class ski resort that is well known for its trout (or something like that), but at this point we were all just willing to stop and get something along the way we were sooo hungry! Lunch was ok. There was way too much oil in the veggie plate, and a lot of the appetizers were just not to m liking (or had too much oil). But the people who got the meat plate seemed to really enjoy it.

Then it was back on the bus to Thessaloniki. We had a bit of down time before we were to have dinner again (about 2 hours or so total!). So a few of us just wandered around for a bit before eating dinner. We even went a picked up a few bottles of wine to split over our dinner tonight. After dinner, we went out to a pub to just hang out some more. I went home early because Daniel and I were going to go to the Museum for the Macedonian struggle the next morning, so I didn’t want to stay up too late.

See you around the globe!


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